A few thoughts on the UK's proposals to sort out the problems with the Northern Ireland protocol. First, some of what it says is reasonable: the partially applied protocol is causing real economic, social and political disruption; /1 @CER_EU
there is no inherent reason why goods going from GB to NI that will never go into Ireland should be checked by the EU - so long as a strong policing system prevents cheating; nor is there a reason why goods circulating in NI (that won't go south) shd comply with EU standards. /2
But second, the problem with these UK ideas is that they require the EU to trust it, eg to police the single mkt & the customs union on the EU's behalf. And asking the EU to rewrite a deal that the UK signed less than 2 years ago will require large amounts of goodwill. /3
Yet the UK's conduct over the past 2 years has done much to erode trust and goodwill towards it. Johnson and his ministers repeatedly said the protocol would not require checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea, which was untrue. They have failed to admit they are at least.../4
partly responsible for negotiating a bum deal. Their unilateral behaviour on eg the internal market bill and the extension of protocol grace periods has lost them friends. And more generally, the biggest complaint one hears in EU capitals about the Brits is their tone. /5
The tone is relentlessly hostile to the EU, always trying to score points against it. Member-state governments assume the constant knocking of the EU is done for domestic political advantage. If the Brits want to achieve some of their objectives they will need to change... /6
the way they talk about Europe. Third, the UK's plan to exclude the European Court of Justice from governance of the NI protocol will get nowhere. A major change to the governance would require a substantial rewrite of the protocol, which the EU could not accept. /7
Fourth, the EU will oppose the UK demands, with the Commission and France taking a particularly hard line. But there are voices, for example in Berlin and Stockholm, which will argue for some of the UK's thinking to be treated with respect. /8
Fifth, a sensible compromise would involve the UK accepting that it cannot change the governance of the protocol (or its wording to a significant degree); and the EU cutting many of the checks on goods going from GB to NI that will not travel south. /9
But to achieve such a compromise the UK would have to work hard to rebuild levels of trust and goodwill that are currently at low levels. And the EU would need to realise that there are real problems with the application of the protocol in NI, that need solving. /ENDS

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More from @CER_Grant

14 Jul
Yesterday I was delighted to join an Aspen Italia/@Russian_Council roundtable on Russia & EU, with @martadassu @DmitriTrenin, Andrei Kortunov, Pasquale Terracciano et al. The following thread summarises some of what I said, on why Russia-EU relations are unlikely to improve. /1
Russia is locked into a gentle economic decline, because its leaders don't want to move away from dependency on natural resource exports, or improve rule of law. As Europe cuts demand for oil & gas, Russia will lose some bargaining power. Standards of living are falling. /2
But Russia faces no awful economic shock. And its leaders probably believe that their illiberal vision of society, focused on God, family & ethnicity, is winning out against the decadent miscegenating godless West. So they see no urgent need to patch things up with EU or US. /3
Read 17 tweets
24 Mar
Our @CER_EU webinar on the UK's Integrated Review will be posted on cer.eu soon. @LordRickettsP was constructively critical, pointing to lack of priorities and to little being said about EU. How can UK be a leader power in European security or Sci-Tek, /1
or a leading regulatory power unless it has good relations to EU? He said UK soft power weakened by cuts to overseas aid, scrapping Difid, visa restrictions and threats to int'l law. But he was happy that 'tilt to Indo-Pacific' was mostly rhetoric - no real cut in commitment /2
to European security. @LordRickettsP praised the review on China - it was right to see it as both a strategic competitor and an economic partner. As for the defence paper, he worried if tech could really be a substitute for mass. Responding, @KoriSchake was more positive. /3
Read 4 tweets
11 Jan
Though the UK and the EU have agreed a Trade and Co-operation Agreement, massive uncertainties still swirl around the future of their relationship. Here are 5, in a short thread. @CER_London 1/6
The TCA says virtually nothing about future co-operation on foreign policy and defence; the UK wanted no institutional links. But will a future UK govt see the case for ties that would enable it to learn what the EU governments are thinking, and influence them? 2/6
Will the new quasi-border in the Irish Sea prove politically sustainable? Unionists (and some Tories) will hate the checks on goods going from GB to NI, and the fact that NI stays partly in EU single market & customs union. Some may be tempted to tear up the NI Protocol. 3/6
Read 6 tweets
24 Dec 20
.@CER_EU will be analysing the #Brexit deal in due course, when there is a text to study. In the meantime here are 10 reflections on the Brexit process - a thread. /1
1. Getting a free trade agreem't done in less than a year is unusually quick. Both teams of negotiators deserve praise. UK's refusal to extend transition may have helped, by concentrating minds. The cost: great uncertainty for firms, which haven't known what rules to expect. /2
2. Most Brits have no idea how hard Brexit will be. Travelers, manufacturers & farmers will suffer irksome friction at borders; service companies will lose access to EU markets; businesses that import EU workers will be hurt. So UK will be less attractive to foreign investors. /3
Read 11 tweets
8 Dec 20
Both sides in the Brexit talks seem to be suffering from a dearth of intel on what the other side is really thinking. At the moment, EU may not appreciate that Johnson really doesn't seem to care about the rational arguments pro a deal. He is relaxed about no deal. @CER_EU /1
But the UK has persistently mis-read EU throughout Brexit process, eg thinking German exporters will ride to rescue, or that the nice member-states need to intervene v. the nasty @MichelBarnier, or that the EU is so scared of no deal, that if UK is tough Barnier will fold. /3
At the top of UK government there are few ministers, civil servants or special advisers with a profound knowledge of the EU, or wide-ranging networks of contacts in European capitals. Many of the people who know about the EU have been side-lined. /4
Read 5 tweets
27 Nov 20
On the #Brexit talks, I hear good and bad news - a short thread. The good news is that on most of the contentious issues - state aid, level playing field, dispute settlement - there has been movement and real progress. @CER_London /1
The bad news: there has been no progress at all on fish. Neither EU (pressed by France) nor UK can easily compromise. Tory MPs care more about fish than eg state aid. And I hear @MichelBarnier is today meeting fisheries ministers - who will presumably tell him not to move. /2
Someone quite close to the talks says he worries that the nature of the process could lead to an unintended crash. All the talking has to happen between Barnier and @DavidGHFrost and their teams - neither team wants others involved. Yet neither team can easily be flexible. /3
Read 5 tweets

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